Caracas, January 12th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) has ruled that the country’s National Assembly is void, after the legislative body violated a previous court order by swearing in three temporarily suspended legislators.
"Decisions taken or to be taken by the National Assembly while these citizens are incorporated will be absolutely null,” read a statement emitted by the court.
The three legislators in question were sworn in on January 6th - despite a Supreme Court order prohibiting them from taking up office pending investigation.
Elections were held on December 6th in Venezuela to elect 167 representatives - including three indigenous - to the country’s chief legislature.
The opposition coalition - the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) - won a two-thirds super majority, taking 112 seats in total for the first time in 19 years.
But its victory was temporarily hampered when the Supreme Court decided to temporarily bar all four elected legislators in Amazonas state - including a government affiliated GPP (Great patriotic Pole) representative - amidst reports of vote-buying.
The ruling temporarily removed the MUD two-third parliamentary super majority. The margin would have given the bloc significant powers in passing motions and legislation virtually unopposed.
Nonetheless, opposition lawmakers and the National Assembly president, Ramos Allup, took the decision to disregard the court - leading to a stalemate between two of country’s three principal public powers.
"The logical, sane and democratic step is for the National Assembly's leadership to revoke the swearing-in of these lawmakers," said deputy leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and former president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, who described parliament as “in contempt”.
The court’s latest decision means that a number of decisions already taken by the assembly are null and void - including Allup’s unilateral decision to remove portraits of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and national liberation hero Simon Bolivar from the congressional chambers.
Tuesday’s planned National Assembly session was also suspended pending further action.
Opposition legislators were expected to push for the passing of a controversial amnesty law, principally aimed at freeing jailed politician Leopoldo Lopez.
Venezuelan media reports that government legislators intended to present a motion declaring an “economic emergency” in light of the country’s worsening financial crisis.